Delicious Valentine's Day candy from Andrew
On Valentine's Day I made ricotta pancakes with banana pecan syrup. Yummy. I managed to get a few small pancakes heart shaped. I think we watched some movies before heading to Jin Restaurant for some delicious sushi. It was wonderful, and not as expensive as we expected.
For my birthday we took a really long bike ride along the Loire River. It was really nice and kind of fun biking over snow. Then we ate some chocolate fondue and watched some more movies. Andrew prepared a delicious dinner for me which included shrimp cocktail, bacon wrapped goat cheese, scallops on a bed of leeks and panchetta, salad, white wine, and three different types of cheeses.
After all that food we and some friends drank champagne and ate chocolate raspberry cake.
I received some lovely birthday gifts, including three books in the Wheel of Time series from Andrew, an electric blender, also from Andrew, a butterfly necklace from Amy, a recipe notebook from Catherine, a wonderful coffee maker from Sarah, excellent Silver Forest earrings from my mom, and two books from Sue.
Me on my rented bike
Yes, those ducks are walking on water; the river was partly frozen
The next day we went into Paris with the idea of spending the day at the Louvre. Apparently it's closed on Tuesdays. Oops. Then we waited an hour to get in line at the Museé d'Orsay, where all the impressionist paintings are, only to get to the front of the line and be told that Andrew's teacher card wasn't valid because he didn't have the "newest" version (which his principal ordered for him but hasn't arrived yet) so we had to pay 8€ to get in.
At this point I was super pissed, especially since we only had about 30 minutes before we were supposed to meet a friend. I moped around the museum, seriously considering defacing one of the priceless works of art, and then took off on my own to meet my friend. I stopped at the English bookstore in town and bought cream soda before heading to an awesome falafel place that was recommended in Clothilde's "Edible Adventures in Paris." It was truly yummy. We then found Andrew again and wandered a bit through the Jewish quarter before going in search of Berthillon, supposedly the world's best ice cream. On the way, we stopped in Cacao et Chocolat, which is supposedly the world's best chocolate, and bought a bar (we have yet to consume it, so the verdict is still out). We finally found Berthillon, but it, too, was closed. We settled for buying some (very expensive) Berthillon ice cream from one of the many surrounding restaurants, but our mood was spoiled when they wouldn't let us stay in the restaurant to eat it. We braved the cold again and ate our ice cream in the sunniest spot we could find in front of Notre Dame. We then went to St. Chapelle, a museum built by Napoleon to house the relics of the Passion of the Christ, but alas, it was closed.
Ice cream in front of Notre Dame
At this point it was getting late so we headed back toward the train station with the intention of passing through the lovely Jardin des Plantes on the way. We got halfway through the park before a guard told us to turn around and go back the way we came. It was closed.
In need of reinforcements, we stopped at the Grand Mosque of Paris for some overpriced (but hot) mint tea before giving up and heading home. Paris had defeated us.
In other news, we made our first batch of cheddar cheese. It is now in the process of drying and forming a rind at which point we will wax it and age it for about six weeks. We'll let you know how it turns out.
Drying the cheese
Yesterday we went and had lunch at Sandrine and Alex's, which was, as always, full of delicious food and drink. We started with some basic appetizers, like fresh mushrooms with a fromage blanc dip, pistachios, and guacamole. We had paupiettes, or little bundles of meat with a vegetable charlottine, a mound of vegetables wrapped in bacon and baked. There was of course the usual cheese platter afterwards, followed by a lovely chocolate pear birthday cake with candles that Léo helped me blow out.
They also gave me a nice necklace and earring set.
I thought I was going to explode from all the food, so we went out to Châteauneuf and visited the Maritime Museum, which was okay, and then walked around the park while Andrew taught Léo to do really annoying things like hit people with sticks.